18th century Black Forest verge & foliot clock

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by Jeremy Woodoff, Dec 6, 2009.

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  1. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Here’s something you don’t see every day. If it is what it appears to be, this is an 18th century Black Forest clock with wood plates, wood wheels, and an original verge and foliot escapement. The motion work is arranged for a 12-hour dial above and a small one-hour dial below, divided into quarters. The clock came without a dial, hands, bell or bell stand. It otherwise appears to be complete. Even the side doors seem original, or at least very old.

    The top and bottom plates appear to be oak; the doors are softwood—probably pine or fir. I’m not sure what the corner posts and wheels are; there is not much graining to them. Unusually, the ends of the corner posts where they go through the plates are threaded and are held in place with wooden nuts. Usually in Black Forest wood frame clocks, the ends of these posts are turned into dowels, which are fixed into the top and bottom plates. The back board is held in place with two wood bolts.

    The wood foliot is still hung with a thread from the arched wood “handle” on top of the clock. About one-third of the foliot is missing. Nonetheless, it will tick when pressure is applied to the train.

    The weights and counterweights for these clocks might have been stones hanging from cords, but one source says with two-train movements the weights were either glass tubes filled with sand or lead or were cast iron. I don’t know what the little weights on the foliot should be. I guess they could also be small stones, or they could be small iron or lead weights.

    The metal parts that have to be round—the pivots and trundles for the pinions—are made of wire, but the other metal parts are mostly of flat forged iron. Even the “pins” in the escape wheel are flat pieces of metal.

    Clocks of this era may have had glass bells, but to hold a glass bell a superstructure is required from which to hang the bell. This was generally an L-shaped wooden arm extending from the back plate up and over the top plate of the clock. There is no sign of such a feature on this clock. Neither is there evidence of a bell stand, and this is probably the biggest mystery about the clock—what kind of bell did it have and how was it mounted. The hammer head is metal, so I believe the bell would have to be cast metal rather than glass. It would be incredibly neat to have a clock with a glass bell.

    There is evidence of old paint on some parts of the clock, especially the edges of the frame and one of the doors. The somewhat garish paint on one of the doors looks like a modern effort to perhaps repaint the ghost of an old pattern, though I can’t make out any paint on the other door. Each door has a little wood knob, which looks like it was carved to resemble turning. Adjacent to the knob is a little wood latch. On one door (the painted one), the latch is held in place with a wood peg with a carved head. On the other door, a differently-shaped wood latch is held with an iron pin whose head is chiseled to somewhat resemble the wood peg. I assume one of the latch assemblies, and possibly one of the doors, is a very old replacement. It appears that the latches interacted in some way with the dial in order to keep the doors closed.

    There are little, unused metal loops at the side of the right-hand front post, at the top and bottom of the post. These might have been used to hold the dial in place, along with the two holes on the front of the front posts. It seems odd, though, that both loops would be on the same side, instead of one on the left and one on the right. They couldn’t be used to support a stand for the bell, as a shaft that extended between the loops would prevent the door from opening.

    I intend to make a dial and hands for this clock, basing the designs on originals. I have a couple of illustrations from Tyler’s and Ortenberger’s books, and I have sent for Schaaf’s book, Schwartzwalduhren, from the NAWCC library. Hopefully, it will have clear photos of a suitable dial, and maybe a clue about the bell.

    Any thoughts on this clock—authenticity, age, etc.? Also, any ideas on what kind of bell it had and how it was mounted?

    Photos are continued in the next post. Moderator, please merge posts if possible.

    Front, back of backboard, left and right side doors:

    front.jpg backboard.jpg

    left side.jpg right side.JPG


    The back plate, with the backboard removed showing the countwheel, and two views of the top:

    back plate-countwheel.jpg top.jpg

    top plate oblique.jpg


    Views of the movement and a detail of the verge and crown wheel:

    side movement.jpg side movement 2.jpg

    crown wheel detail.jpg
     
  2. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Detail views of the wooden foliot, "handle," and hammer:

    foliot & hammer detail.jpg handle detail.jpg

    foliot.jpg

    Left and right door handles:
    right side handle.jpg left side handle.JPG

    Typical wooden nut and bolts:

    nut and bolts.jpg

    Motion work detail showing decorative turnings on wheels, and inside of the backboard:

    motion work detail.jpg inside backboard.jpg
     
  3. Scottie-TX

    Scottie-TX Registered User
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    Is it possible this is even earler than 18th? I think you're aware of my fascination for verge foliots and finding one old as this is certainly a score. Is it yours?
     
  4. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    Truly amazing Jeremy and excellent photos too.

    The threaded nuts & bolts is curious; the maker must have had a screw cutting lathe or access to one.

    The form of the movement is very similar to the earliest Black Forest verge and foliot clocks but of the few examples I can see in Betthold Schaff's "Holzraderuhren," none have any threaded fixings and instead have either pinned pillars or they are mortised into the plates as with later movement.

    Apparently, the Black Forest inventors quickly adopted the front pendulum and did away with the foliot early on.

    The wood in your photos appears to be other than the beech wood favored by the BF makers. Your example might have orginated in one of the low countries.

    Very interesting and amazing and I thank you for posting the photos.
     
  5. BLACK FOREST CLOCKS

    BLACK FOREST CLOCKS Registered User

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    Fantastic piece!

    My earliest is a C. 1780 Harp clock (Hackbrettuhr)... This predates anything in my collection. Good project, do it right.

    My guess is this is 1740... based on some readings, but I am no expert in these early pieces.

    Thanks for sharing so many detailed photos.

    Justin
     
  6. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    #6 Jeremy Woodoff, Dec 6, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
    Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Yes, Scottie, it is mine. Another amazing eBay purchase. I was the only bidder.
     
  7. Scottie-TX

    Scottie-TX Registered User
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    I GNU this'd make JUSTIN drool! Yeah; QUITE a score. Not my deal but . . . . certainly can appreciate what it is - what it means.
     
  8. ballistarius

    ballistarius Registered User

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    Not just Justin....
    Congrats, Jeremy, what a beauty!!!:eek:
    (Where was I looking to when they auctioned it at eBay:???::bang:

    Aitor;)
     
  9. ballistarius

    ballistarius Registered User

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    #9 ballistarius, Dec 10, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
    Jeremy,

    I think that the 'arch' was the bell stand. The wooden peg and thread holding the verge and foliot are clearly modern. Let's suppose that you fix the bell to the arch by means of a wooden screw, after the, you could still hang the foliot from the underside of that very screw...
    I think that a clock depicted on Helmuth Keiner's book 'Holzuhren' page 54 culd have a similar arrangement, but pics are rather small and 'muddy'
    Notwithstanding, the closest parallel is on Schaaf's book, pages 80-81, using the same 'screw' system to hold the posts. Not German, Austrian from Voralberg Land, near Tirol. An independent wire holds the foliot and the metal bell is hung form the 'arch'

    Aitor
     
  10. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Aitor,

    Thank you for that information. I'm getting the Schaaf book from the NAWCC library and will look for the picture you cite.
     
  11. ballistarius

    ballistarius Registered User

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    Jeremy,
    Sorry but I've realized that you mentioned Schaaf's book 'Schwarzwalduhren'. That is not the one I quoted, it's another, earlier, Schaaf's book, 'Holzräderuhren'. Clocks from Voralberg aren't from Black Forest and they are not included on the book 'Schwarzwalduhren':(

    Aitor
     
  12. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Oh, I'll have to request "Holzraderuhren" next time. What does "holzraderuhren" mean in English?
     
  13. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    This means translated literally "clocks with wooden wheels". Americans would say "wooden works clocks".

    Uhralt
     
  14. Sooth

    Sooth Registered User
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    Wow. Usually I would think a special engine or fixture would be used to cut the teeth, but they LOOK as if they are hand cut with just a fine toothed saw (all the teeth look slightly different, with different depths of cut/slots, and slightly varying widths).
     
  15. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    2 3/8 1 1/2

    Yes, Sooth, the teeth do appear hand cut.

    I've been thinking about Aitor's suggestion that the bell originally hung from the wood "handle" with the foliot hanging below the bell. There is only 2 3/8" from the top plate to the handle, and only 1 1/2" from the top of the foliot to the handle. A bell would have to be very shallow to fit in this space. Also, for the bell to be struck by the hammer as the hammer is currently configured, the bell would have to be 4 1/2" in diameter. Perhaps instead there was a wood bracket attached to the top of the "handle," extending at right angles towards the hammer, and the bell hung from that.
     
  16. Sooth

    Sooth Registered User
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    Well, as far as a bell goes, I would either think that it went OVER the piece, or under it. It would depend how the hammer strikes (from the interior or from the exterior). The hammer itself looks like it's no longer bent in the correct shape (too much of an odd S curve).

    A 4 1/2" bell is not uncommon.
     
  17. ballistarius

    ballistarius Registered User

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    Jeremy,
    If you have difficulties getting Schaaf's 'Wooden-geared clocks', just tell me. It is a difficult to get and expensive book. I was lucky to get one copy. Dust-jacket was missing, but I wasn't ready to pay $100 more for a dust-jacket...:p
    The similarities of your movement to Voralberg clocks are striking. Notwithstanding your movement seems to lack two of three characteristics of Voralberg clocks, as Schaaf defines them: You have the wooden screws and nuts, but your corner posts haven't got stamped motifs and the wheels don't show short radial incisions marking the teeth's cusps...:confused:
    I bought another woodworks Austrian movement one year ago or so. I posted it here https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?t=56941&page=2
    I e-mailed Berthold Schaaf in search of more information, but I've got no answer yet...

    Aitor
     
  18. harold

    harold Registered User
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    Jeremy

    I will play the DVD and I will let you know if I find anything.
     
  19. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    Jeremy very interesting clock.Looks like a clock many wag collectors would love to have, nice find.
    I really like the hand cut wooden wheels and nuts and bolts.
     

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